A Baltimore man who was sentenced to 60 days in jail on a marijuana possession charge lost his appeal in the Maryland Court of Appeals. A Baltimore Sun crime blog entry exposes the humorous wording of the official opinion of the court, who mentioned the appellate as acting “groovy” and even cited the classic marijuana comedies of Cheech & Chong.
The man’s conviction was upheld as the court determined his proximity and “groovy” attitude was enough to establish possession of the marijuana blunt burning in the ashtray upon police entry into the home. Apparently he maintained his laid-back attitude when the cops busted in.
In the footnotes of the opinion, the court took the time to explain exactly who Cheech & Chong were so as not to lose anyone in the reference to them. A brief career summary was provided for the duo looking more like a bio found on IMDB than a state appeals court opinion.
The court also provided a paragraph definition of “blunt”, again to ensure anyone reading the opinion would be able to follow along. The footnotes read, “A police witness testified that to create a blunt the smoker obtains a legitimate cigar, removes the tobacco, and substitutes marijuana for the tobacco. The smoker then rolls the wrapper and the marijuana back into the shape of a cigar and lights up.”
Court opinions rarely offer insight into pop culture and even more rarely hint on the verge of humor. While the appellate who lost his case likely isn’t laughing, those in the legal community can see humor in this unusually written opinion.
Laughter aside, however, it’s a good example of the legal definition of “possession”. You don’t have to have a marijuana cigarette in your hands, your pockets, or even touching you to be found in possession. Your proximity, which allows you to reach out and control the item, is often enough to charge you.
Whether you’re talking about pot, another drug, or even a weapon, possession doesn’t always mean physical possession. “Constructive possession” is a legal term used to describe exactly this situation. It refers to you having knowledge of the drug’s presence and the ability to maintain control over it.
So, while the drugs may not have been in your hands, you can still be charged and potentially convicted of possession.